Libby Lawrence 10/25/2020
When I first was certain that I no longer believed in the existence of a god, I had a desperate need to address all of the Christian myths that I had been forced to memorize as a child. I took a lot of questions from various atheist forums and re-wrote them. I have no original authors for any of these – sorry. Some are from the Nairaland forum, a Nigerian atheist group. I have so much STUFF here and a lot of it repeats -augh! Here are 26 comments/problems with religious beliefs.
1) Atheism is the Disbelief in the Existence of God(s)
The fundamental argument for atheism is that there is no evidence or proof for God. There is no solid or tangible evidence for God nor a logical argument for God. The existence of God is taken on faith and not by evidence.
A) God cannot be proven by science which is the main way we study and understand our universe or natural world. There is no theory of God.
B) There is no conclusive logical argument for the existence of God. God’s existence is continuously debated.
C) There is no comprehensive definition of God. There are many definitions for the same God as there are many gods. This is problematic if one is to ascertain the characteristics of God to judge if God exists or not.
2) Debunking Pascal’s Wager
“If the Christian God does not exist, the agnostic loses little by believing in him and gains correspondingly little by not believing. If the Christian God does exist, the agnostic gains eternal life by believing in him and loses an infinite good by not believing.”
Pascal’s Wager has several faults.
A) The biggest problem is that it’s not a proof of any god’s existence; it’s just an argument for believing, not a proof of existence. It is purely a method of extorting the gullible through fear, it’s nothing more than a scare tactic any religion can use to generate followers. It also assumes the existence of an afterlife of Heaven or Hell.
B) Like many other such arguments, it also fails to denote exactly which god it refers to. Pascal’s Wager could be applied to any god that offers rewards and punishments. Taken to the extreme, following the wager would necessitate betting on the god with the worst hell, so it could be avoided.
C) The wager is a gamble, which goes against the doctrine that many religions have that gambling is sinful.
D) Pascal’s Wager depends on the idea that you don’t lose much by believing. This has been false for many who have trusted in their god for help or guidance, instead of seeking reality-based solutions. People have unnecessarily fought, killed and died for their belief in their god. Also, the time and money spent worshipping a god could have been properly invested in worthwhile developmental pursuits both for the individual and for humanity as a whole.
E) Pascal’s Wager completely ignores and even denigrates intellectual integrity and honesty; it implies that people can choose to believe. Adults who know that Santa Claus is a fictional character cannot suddenly choose to believe that he exists without the guy showing up and saying hello. What this requires is lying about one’s belief.
F) Pascal’s Wager completely ignores the belief in god’s “omniscience”. We are all taught that god knows our thoughts. Yet, the wager suggests lying to that all-powerful, all-knowing god in order to go to Heaven after death and save yourself from Hell. Did he think that god would be fooled?
3) God Knows – and judges? – All Our Thoughts?
God knows what is in your mind and knows if you are a good or bad person. (He’s sees you when you’re sleeping, He knows when you’re awake – hum it with me!) Jesus says that thinking about sex is a sin:
Matthew 5;28 “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
The problem with thought policing is that humans can’t control their thoughts and emotions. How do we know a person is attractive if we didn’t see them? According to Jesus, your unavoidable instinct is a sin. Are blind people blessed from birth to be less sinful than normal humans? And I don’t envy any deity that monitors every human thought – eww.
4) The Paradox of Omniscience/Omnipresence/Omnipotence
An omniscient God is self-refuting and contradictory.
Omniscience means knowing all things. If god knows everything that will happen, god has no ability to change what will happen. Free will is a myth. If a god is without moral fault, he cannot know lust or envy, and thus cannot qualify as omniscient. If a god is without limitation he cannot know fear, frustration, or despair. Here too the argument can be pressed without appeal to other attributes. One of the feelings I know all too well is the recognition of my own ignorance. An omniscient being would have no ignorance, and thus this is a feeling no omniscient being could know.
The Paradox of Omnipresence
God has the ability to be everywhere. he is omnipresent. However, that means that he doesn’t have the ability to leave a certain place or the ability to be absent.
The Paradox of Omnipotence
Well, this one is easy. “There is nothing god can’t do.” Can he make a rock so big he can’t lift it? Can he get rid of evil? Can he destroy Satan? Can he alter the past? Can an eternal god kill itself? Like omniscience, the problem is with the term itself – if such a being exists, omnipotence certainly refers to the human perception of this being – “he can do EVERYTHING!”-which is obviously limited not only in scope but in any evidence that isn’t fantasy.
5) The Law Maker Argument Against Religious Books
If we ask any lawyer today about law books, he or she will tell you that they mostly get obsolete after a year because amendments and new laws come into place. The reasons for these amendments are to keep up with advances in technology, to keep up with advances in human knowledge and to close loopholes.
Unfortunately, religions have holy books that have religious codes and are considered the laws of God. These religions claim that their holy books contain eternal truths (Christianity) and that their holy book is complete (Islam).
The problem is very simple; religious books like the Quran and Bible will continue to be outdated naturally, no matter how many times they are interpreted because laws by nature have to change with the advance of societies and technology.
6) The Problem of Tragedy, Evil and Natural Disasters
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
A great question people ask when tragedy and natural disasters happen is: Where is God? Religious theists cannot answer this question adequately as it provides a great problem with the theory of a “good and just” God.
- Why does God allow terrible things to happen to good people?
- Why does God allow innocent children to starve? – Or suffer abuse? – Or get cancer?
- Why does God allow natural disasters like earthquakes to kill both sinners and innocent people indiscriminately?
There are many flawed religious answers to these questions
A) God gives man freewill. A natural disaster has no freewill and human freewill cannot prevent a natural disaster.
B) God is punishing the wicked. Natural disasters kill indiscriminately, taking both believers and non-believers, therefore if this is punishment, the just are being punished along with the wicked. Natural disasters occur in all regions, they are not specific to Christian countries, or Muslim countries, or Hindu countries – there is no place where a religious group receives any protection from their god.
C) God is doing this for a greater good! We are not omnipotent and so we can’t judge. The argument of a greater good coming from death and destruction could possibly refer to the subsequent human advancement in building practices. As an example, great strides have been made in creating fire and earthquake resistant buildings. The problem with this claim is that if natural disasters are an “act of god” then we are protecting ourselves FROM god. This presumes that advancement is the carrot and god is the stick.
D) God is not involved in these tragedies! Then why is the god-concept even part of the conversation? What need is there for god?
E) God is present in the human acts of recovery, care, and comfort. Care, healing, rebuilding, and comfort also happen in secular communities. What need is there for god?
7) The Argument from Locality
The Argument from Locality runs as follows: Every religion currently being practiced on this planet, as well as every past religion which no longer has followers, has a definite, discernible origin in time and space. Even if the exact beginnings of a religion are murky, that religion still originated in a definite area and in a definite time period. Any god or gods which existed and which desired to reveal themselves to humanity would not provide a revelation to only one culture, at one time, in one place. The fact that all religions originated in one specific culture, at one specific time and place, points strongly to the religion being the product of that culture, time and place, and not the product of divine revelation.
A) Any deity which desired to be believed in would reveal itself to everyone, not just to a specific person, culture, race or nation. There can be no doubt that any religion that had it right would be universal. Modern science has taught us that all humans are the same on fundamental genetic and cognitive levels and that race is a social construct as much as it is a biological one. In light of these facts, it is not rational to insist that a god would select any single specific people or ethnicity to be its chosen.
B) If there is a reward for believing, it is fundamentally unfair that some would receive more reliable evidence than others.
C) If there is a punishment for not believing, it is fundamentally unfair that some would receive less evidence than others, or no evidence at all.
D) A religion which strongly reflects the beliefs of its time is more likely to be a product of its time than of revelation.
Consider what would refute the Argument from Locality. We could have found ourselves living in a world with only one religion, spread throughout the globe, with prophets from among every people. We could have found that, when we first contacted isolated native tribes, their religion was identical to one that already existed rather than being entirely their own. This would be normal if there really was a god genuinely interested in revealing itself to humanity and being worshipped.
But in reality, we find none of these things. What we find are numerous contradictory and conflicting religions, some with specific “chosen” races or ethnicities, and the further separated they are in time and space, the more their beliefs clash.
One could, of course, argue that this does not prove anything, that the “revelation” of god would naturally evolve and change to reflect its isolated culture. Yes, but the core message would be the same. We would not see Reincarnation/Nirvana/Heaven and Hell, etc. We would see variants of a single idea. Theists might argue that God had reasons for sending his messengers to only one people. This still simply leads to a proliferation of myths where (due to a complete lack of evidence) there is no way of knowing if any elements hold any truth.
Atheism does not have the luxury of infinitely imaginative explanations unconstrained by fact.
8) Debunking the Claim that Morality Comes from God
Christian apologists claim that morals come from god. The say that god is the absolute or objective moral law giver. His laws are the best for humanity. The problem is, of course, that many directives in the bible are now considered immoral. The Bible is quite specific that witches should be stoned. Today, we have no problem with Psychics and Wiccans, although some people are of the opinion that they are a bit delusional. The Bible says that if a woman is not a virgin on her wedding night, she should be killed. This directive is no longer followed. The Bible gives clear instructions on the sale and treatment of slaves. This is obviously immoral. These are only 3 examples from a very long list. Our morality has outgrown our religious texts.
9) Why Can’t God (I mean faith healers) Heal Amputees?
Regeneration of limbs for humans is quite impossible and difficult to fake. It comes as no surprise to atheists that we never hear the faith healers claim that they have grown back a leg or an arm for an amputee.
There are two rationalizations made by apologists for this problem:
A) God has a special plan for amputees
B) Amputees don’t need healing
We never hear what that plan is, or why the amputee should be placed at a disadvantage – having to use prosthetics, being unable to do once-loved activities, etc. Both rationalizations are dehumanizing and insensitive in their purpose to prove the existence and “values” of a fictional character. Modern science is helping amputees while god is either impotent, uncaring, or non-existent.
10) Did God Come Out of Nothing?
“Something can’t come out of nothing”, the theist apologists commonly say. However, no one knows where God (at least the Abrahamic God) came from. The usual answer atheists get from the question is that God is eternal and didn’t need a creator. However, this is a circular argument:
If we keep identifying a cause for everything, we will into an infinite regress of causes. Therefore, we need a first cause which is uncaused, and God is the first cause, he doesn’t need a cause because he is the uncaused.
Unfortunately, this is a flawed argument. This is replacing an infinity with another infinity. You solve a paradox of infinite causes with another paradox of an infinite being.
11) Problems with an Omnipotent/Omniscient Intelligent Designer and His Designs
A) Circumcision. Explained as a hygienic practice, avoiding disease and infection. Then why does the foreskin exist at all? “I made you perfect, in my own image, now I need you to cut part of it off, and we’ll call it a “covenant”.”
B) We can’t breathe and swallow at the same time, and food can be aspirated into the lungs.
C) Upright walking posture causes knee, ankle, and hip problems, back problems, sinus problems, and more.
And then there are birth defects, mental and physical disabilities, people who will never be able to care for themselves, many never able to be a productive member of society. If god designed the human body, has a plan for every one born, wants all to worship him and go to heaven, then you would think that he would at least take away issues that make this impossible from birth.
12) Created in the Image of God?
Man is said to be created in the “image of god”. Which man? There was never an “Adam and Eve”. Was Australopithecus “Lucy” created in the image of god? She’s the closest we have found to an “Eve”. How about Cro-Magnon or Neanderthal or Denisovan man? Where do you make the split and say “this one is now the image of god and has a soul, but all those before are just animals”? And does it imply that god is a 4-limbed mammal, upright walking biped, with eyes and ears, mouth, hands, feet? Christians of my Father’s generation would also claim that god had a penis. This belief, of course, has led to thousands of years of misogyny, since women were NOT made in the image of god, they were basically penis receptacles who committed the original sin and brought evil and death to the world.
13) The Problem of a Literal Adam and Eve – Inbreeding
The bible says that Adam and Eve were the first human beings on earth and the parents of all humans.
The only way Adam and Eve could have had grandchildren would have been by inbreeding among their children. It’s biologically impossible for 2 people to populate the earth into billions of the present day. Genetic evidence indicates that humans descended from at least 10,000 people with the amount of variation we have right now.
14) The Forgiveness Loophole
God is ever merciful and will forgive if you accept Jesus as your savior and repent of your sins. Unfortunately, this presents a loophole in Christian life and behavior regarding acceptance into Heaven.
All that is required is that you accept Jesus as your savior. Therefore, a mass murderer can repent and accept Jesus on his deathbed, and go to heaven. But anyone who does not accept Jesus will automatically go to hell, no matter how intelligent or caring they were.
The common example is that if Hitler had converted before committing suicide, he would be in Heaven, while the millions of innocent Jews that he slaughtered would be frying in hell for all eternity. Jeffrey Dahmer converted in prison, so he is in Heaven while the gay young men that he murdered are in hell. It’s a completely flawed concept.
15) Argument Against the Devil
Lucifer was an angel who rebelled against god. The general belief Is that his sin was pride, he wanted to overthrow god and become god. If you ask a Christian who created evil, they will tell you that Satan (Lucifer) created evil, brought on by Adam and Eve’s original sin.
But the Bible says that God created evil:
Isaiah 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
All hero stories need an adversary. The writers of the stories knew there was evil in the world and had to give god an enemy to defeat. Interestingly enough, the “fact” that god is apparently incapable of preventing evil and stopping Lucifer from day 1 is a big part of the argument against Omnipotence. And why would god prevent evil if he claims to create it? And why would anyone worship a being that creates evil?
16) Theists Say that Atheism is a Religion
re·li·gion [ri-lij-uh?n] (from Dictionary.com) noun
1) A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
2) A specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
3) The body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
4) The life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
5) The practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
If atheism is the disbelief in the existence of God, how does it then fit into the definition of religion above? There are no leaders, no scripture, no practices. It has been said “atheism is a religion like bald is a hair color”.
17) The Lie that Christianity is Not a Religion
Some Christians, in order to deflect criticism from their religion claim that Christianity is not a religion. A good example of this was Bill O’Reilly of Fox News who claimed that Christianity is not a religion but a philosophy!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PH09hgb7DQ Others claim that Christianity is a “way of life”, not a religion.
Note the definition list above. Christianity ticks off all 5 boxes. It is definitely a religion, and a hierarchical one.
18) The Problem of Hell and Free Will
If human beings go to hell because they reject God, then there is no freewill. We are forced between believing or being tortured – after we die, for eternity. That is not a choice or freewill, it is extortion. It is embedding a fear to ensure that you are obeyed. And it is completely immoral.
And it completely ignores the fact that the majority of humanity has either not heard of Christianity, has been raised in another religion, or raised in no religion. Most religions claim that they are the only “right” one. And there is no proof of any of it.
One good example stated that choice of religion was like bringing an elementary school class into a classroom that has a different science textbook on each desk. There is no teacher. There is only 1 correct book. The student that chooses the correct desk goes to Heaven. The rest are sent to Hell to fry for all eternity.
19) Sexism and Misogyny in the Bible
The scriptures clearly state that females are sub-humans. The value of a woman was less than that of a goat. The value of a female child was half that of a male child. Women who have sons were unclean for 7 days, women who had daughters were unclean for 14 days. A woman was a literal slave, owned by her father and then her husband. The Freedom from Religion Foundation presents a short list of 200 misogynistic verses here: https://ffrf.org/component/k2/item/23729-why-women-need-freedom-from-religion
Tertullian, one of the early church fathers, wrote:
In pain shall you bring forth children, woman, and you shall turn to your husband and he shall rule over you. And do you not know that you are Eve? God’s sentence hangs still over all your sex and His punishment weighs down upon you. You are the devil’s gateway; you are she who first violated the forbidden tree and broke the law of God. It was you who coaxed your way around him whom the devil had not the force to attack. With what ease you shattered that image of God: Man! Because of the death you merited, even the Son of God had to die. . . . Woman, you are the gate to hell.
One can find similarly misogynistic statements in the writings of many other church fathers and theologians, including St. Ambrose, St. Anthony, Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory of Nazianzum, and St. Jerome.
20) A Special Case of Argumentum Ad Ignorantium; Shifting the Burden of Proof by the Religious
You cannot claim that “miracles exist unless someone proves that they do not exist.” You cannot claim that “souls exist unless someone proves that they do not exist.” You cannot claim that “angels exist unless someone proves that they do not exist.” You cannot claim that “deities exist unless someone proves that they do not exist.”
This is a common argument from some theists. They make the argument that since the atheist cannot prove that their supernatural beings cannot be disproved, they exist. The theists are putting the burden on the atheists to prove their claims wrong when they haven’t provided any evidence for their claims. This is not how logic works. That is an argument from ignorance.
This is how logic works: X exists or is true because there is evidence for X. Tasmanian Devils exist because we have scientific documentaries or videos showing them in their habitat.
It is not possible to prove the non-existence of something. The burden of proof of existence lies solely upon the person making the claim.
21) The Inconsistency of a Good God and the God of the Old Testament
“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” – Richard Dawkins
God, in the Old Testament, sanctioned many crimes against humanity like slavery (Leviticus 25;44) and genocide (1 Samuel 15:3). This is in contrast with what Christians and Jews call a good God that should be worshiped. In an attempt to avoid the vicious evil that is the Old Testament God, Christians will frequently claim that Jesus brought new laws and a new covenant (and apparently, a whole new god). But Jesus himself said otherwise:
Matthew 5:17-19 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
22) The Ridiculous Concept of Blasphemy
Blasphemy laws are laws against making insults or acts of irreverence towards a religion or deity. Yes, in most countries there is no longer a death penalty for saying “Jesus Christ!” or doubting god’s existence. Outrageous that “taking god’s name in vain” made the Ten Commandments but rape, child abuse, animal abuse, misogyny, xenophobia, etc., didn’t even get a mention.
23) Religious Charity: Evangelism Isn’t Selfless
Altruism = Unselfish concern for the welfare of others; selflessness.
Religious charity cannot be considered altruistic when there is evangelism tied to it. There are many organizations that mix proselytizing and charity work together. The missionary or religious charity is saying “we’re not feeding you because you’re hungry, we’re not giving you a place to sleep because you’re in need and we care” – they’re saying “we’ll offer this if you listen to our preaching so then you’ll be grateful and convert”. The church gains more members, and they believe that god will reward them for their efforts. It’s all about them and what they’ll gain.
24) Blood Sacrifice Cleanses Sin
Ok, that statement is illogical on so many levels that it would take a whole book to list the problems. I told a lie, so in order for god to forgive me for that lie I have to murder a dove and now it’s all ok? (I didn’t lie to god, I lied to a person, it’s not up to a sky-daddy to do the forgiving anyway.) The idea of any other living creature suffering and dying because of another’s transgression is just . . . sick. What drunk village-idiot witch doctor started this sickness? – Probably a hungry one who wanted a neighbor’s chicken.
Sure, the offering of blood to a deity seems to be in the history of nearly every culture. There seems to have been a very early fascination with blood, a realization when blood is spilled, we die, therefore blood is a life-force that is special. It began being offered to spirits in various rituals. And the “human god-boy” sacrifice was the ultimate capper to traditional animal sacrifice. (And there were a lot of those “dying and rising gods” in the Middle East, whether named Jesus, or Attis, Adonis, Baal, Marduk, Osiris, Tammuz, Dionysus, Mithras, and many others.)
One has to think of the message that the bible is sending. God, in his almighty omnipotence and omniscience, could not fathom out a way to forgive humankind of their sins that did not involve the torture and death of human being? Truly, this whole “blood sacrifice for sin” trope is just another proof that the bible is man-made and created upon a base of ignorant superstitions.
25) Other Gods?
The Abrahamic faiths are monotheistic with the claim that there is One True God but there are instances where other gods are mentioned. Who are these other gods when there is supposedly only One?
Psalm 82:1 “God presides in the great assembly; he gives judgment among the “gods”
26) God Can’t Use Modern Technology?
TV preachers can, sure. They make a lot of money from that scam. But today, Black Lives Matter is happening because people have cell-phones and daily life is now getting documented. We’re not seeing any type of similar “miracle” videos – except for seeing images in clouds or on toast.
In a day and age where children can video themselves, post the video online, and have it seen around the world – god is still not proving his existence. He still needs people to speak FOR him. He still only communicates in dreams and visions and hunches and feelings – none of which count as evidence of anything but delusion. The creature who could write on stone tablets, part the Red Sea, speak from “the clouds”, and create galaxies is terrified of CAMERAS.
(Christians will claim that he is waiting for the correct time to reveal himself. Atheists can say that the topic of a deity is irrelevant fantasy until he does.)